Buyers Guide: How to Choose the Right Acoustic Guitar Strings
When it comes to choosing acoustic guitar strings, there are plenty of possibilities. In this buyers guide, we'll take a look at some of the things you should consider before making your purchase.
String thickness and tension for steel-string guitars
While most electric guitars have a string thickness starting at .009 or .010, most acoustic guitars have a string thickness starting at .011 or .012, although sets starting at .10 and .013 are also used. Just like with the electric guitar, Roundwound strings are far and away the most popular type of strings used on steel-string acoustic models. If you want to hear a little less sound when you're changing hand positions, then Halfround strings may suit you better. It's also possible to use the same Flatwound strings that are used on electric guitars if you want to play strings that are completely smooth.
Steel-string acoustic guitar: winding materials
For most styles of music played on an acoustic guitar, two types of strings prove to be the most popular. These are the Bronze and Phosphor Bronze strings. If you want a bright, warm sound, the Phosphor Bronze strings may be right for you. We also have coated Phosphor Bronze strings which sound brighter for longer.
Another important consideration is the type of winding a string has. If you want more brightness and clearer bass notes than you get from Bronze strings, then Aluminium Bronze strings are a good option. For styles like Bluegrass, we recommend Nickel & Copper strings. For smaller acoustic guitar models Silk & Steel strings will give you a sweet sound with more warmth. For a sharper, brighter sound suitable for Jazz or Gypsy styles, silver-wound strings should do the trick.
Acoustic guitars with nylon strings
Classical guitar: windings on nylon strings
When it comes to strings for classical guitars (also known as Spanish guitars), they are different from those for electric and steel-string acoustic models. Strings without a winding are made of solid nylon. Wound strings on the other hand, have a core made of nylon fibres. It's not uncommon to hear the term nylon-string guitars being used for these models. The most popular type of string fitted on these instruments has a nylon core with a silver winding, that gives the familiar sound that is most associated with this type of guitar. If you'd like a warmer sound with slightly more prominence, then Bronze Nylon strings would be a good choice. For more brightness, gold-plated nylon strings are the ones to go for.
String tension on classical guitars
String thickness and tension is also different on classical guitars compared electric and steel-string acoustic models. There are basically three different string tensions for classical models. It should come as no surprise that most classical guitars have medium tension strings fitted. What may surprise you however, is that the other two tensions are hard and extra hard. These strings are more often fitted to 1/2 and 3/4 size classical guitar models. Because the scale length is shorter on these instruments, the harder string tension means that they play much the same as full-size model with medium tension strings.
For musical styles such as flamenco, strings with a higher tension also tend to be used. That's because they can deliver more volume and brightness. If you want to use these type of strings on your classical instrument, it's important to check that its construction is robust enough to stand up to the higher tension first. The muscles in your fingers will also have to be capable of enduring a more intense workout! You don't want to damage your instrument or yourself, after all.